HUNTINGTON — This week's Chat 'n' Chew may be fairly meaty, as Create Huntington and the city government itself will host a forum on refining the city's zoning ordinances to better develop future growth.
Strong Towns, a non-profit dedicated to helping communities across the country become financially sound and socially resilient, is making a followup visit to the Jewel City, after coming to Huntington in November 2013.
City officials say they will be focusing on how the city's zoning ordinances can be tweaked in certain areas to fit Huntington's Plan 2025.
"It's great that Small Towns will travel to a community to offer this level of technical assistance," said City Planner Breanna Shell, in a written statement. "Huntington is extremely fortunate to receive this expertise, and we encourage residents to attend the meeting and provide valuable input."
The meeting takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the lobby of the Frederick Building at 940 4th Ave.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams addressed the significance of the forum during a city council meeting Monday.
"This is critically important to the continued growth of our city," he said. "You start to look at how the city was constructed. In our neighborhoods, we used to have grocery stores, pharmacies, small businesses in our neighborhoods. Over the years, as people started to move out and strip malls and other types of malls developed, there was a trend more to have certain types of businesses segmented into certain areas.
"Now we find ourselves in our zoning regulations, when there is an attempt to encourage entrepreneurship in our neighborhoods, it's difficult to do simply because our zoning ordinances don't allow it."
Williams said certain needs in neighborhoods need to be addressed if the city is going to attract growth, particularly among the millenial population.
The targeted areas for discussion include Hal Greer Boulevard, 20th Street, 14th Street West, Bridge Street in Guyandotte and the Old Main Corridor on 4th Avenue, among others.
Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.